Swiss drop probe against Turkish minister

Swiss prosecutors said on Monday they would drop a probe into alleged remarks by Turkey's EU affairs minister denying the Armenian genocide, as the official enjoyed diplomatic immunity.

“After consultations with the Federal Department for Foreign Affairs, prosecutors of canton Zurich came to the conclusion that no criminal proceedings would be opened against Egemen Bagis, because as a Turkish EU minister he enjoyed immunity during his entire stay in Switzerland,” said
prosecutors in a statement.

Denial of the Armenian genocide is a crime under Swiss anti-racism laws.

Bagis reportedly made the comments to a journalist during a visit to Zurich after attending the World Economic Forum’s annual meeting in end-January in Davos.

According to Turkey’s English-language newspaper Today’s Zaman, he was asked about his views on a newly-adopted French bill criminalizing denial of the Armenian genocide and responded: “Switzerland is another country where it is a crime to deny the so-called genocide”.

“Here I am in Switzerland today, and I’m saying the 1915 incidents did not amount to genocide. Let them come arrest me.”

The paper said a complaint had been filed by members of Switzerland’s Armenian community.

Armenia says that planned massacres and deportations under the Ottoman Empire left more than 1.5 million of its people dead in 1915, but Turkey maintains there was no genocide, saying there were no more than 500,000 fatalities as a result of civil strife and the impact of World War I.

Member comments

Log in here to leave a comment.
Become a Member to leave a comment.


Erdogan calls French separatism bill ‘guillotine’ of democracy

Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Wednesday denounced a planned French law designed to counter "Islamist separatism" as a "guillotine" of democracy.

Erdogan calls French separatism bill 'guillotine' of democracy
Erdogan has already denounced the proposed measures as "anti-Muslim". Photo: Adem ALTAN/AFP

The draft legislation has been criticised both inside France and abroad for stigmatising Muslims and giving the state new powers to limit speech and religious groups.

“The adoption of this law, which is openly in contradiction of human rights, freedom of religion and European values, will be a guillotine blow inflicted on French democracy,” said Erdogan in a speech in Ankara.

The current version of the planned law would only serve the cause of extremism, putting NGOs under pressure and “forcing young people to choose between their beliefs and their education”, he added.

READ ALSO: What’s in France’s new law to crack down on Islamist extremism?

“We call on the French authorities, and first of all President (Emmanuel) Macron, to act sensibly,” he continued. “We expect a rapid withdrawal of this bill.”

Erdogan also said he was ready to work with France on security issues and integration, but relations between the two leaders have been strained for some time.

France’s government is in the process of passing new legislation to crack down on what it has termed “Islamist separatism”, which would give the state more power to vet and disband religious groups judged to be threats to the nation.

Erdogan has already denounced the proposed measures as “anti-Muslim”.

READ ALSO: Has Macron succeeded in creating an ‘Islam for France’?

Last October, Erdogan questioned Macron’s “mental health”, accusing him of waging a “campaign of hatred” against Islam, after the French president defended the right of cartoonists to caricature the prophet Mohammed.

The two countries are also at odds on a number of other issues, including Libya, Syria and the eastern Mediterranean.